My first pregnancy was magical. Each new change was a sweet reminder of the life growing inside of me. I stalked my email inbox for my weekly pregnancy update, anxious to learn what new things I could expect as my pregnancy progressed. I knew the size of my child by its produce equivalent. I cherished every kick, hiccup, and movement. I even viewed the more annoying things like insomnia and heartburn through rose colored glasses and said (obviously delusional) things like, “I am really going to miss these constant reminders of this sweet baby after he’s born.”
Then my son was born, and with his birth it seems the magical unicorn of pregnancy bliss disappeared.
Your First Pregnancy
You’ve been trying to get pregnant, and even though it’s too early to take a test you refrain from drinking a glass of wine just in case. You have been tracking your cycle, and know the first possible day you can take a pregnancy test. The instructions say to take it in the morning, so you do. And for the next seven mornings after, just to be sure.
You’ve been planning how to tell your husband the good news, and you work hard to make the moment just right.
You are both over the moon excited! Ever since you started trying to conceive you’ve been thinking about how to share the news with family and friends, so you get to work preparing for those special moments.
Now that everyone knows and you’ve been to your first doctor’s appointment, you start thinking about baby names, nursery décor, and registering for all the baby gear you will need. You sign up for weekly emails, download new apps to your phone, and read all kinds of pregnancy articles and books. You might feel sick or want to nap constantly, but you welcome these as signs of a growing baby.
You absolutely cannot wait until you are noticeably pregnant.
You don’t really need maternity pants until well into your second trimester, but you wear them anyway because you just can’t wait. Plus, maybe it will help people notice you are pregnant. Every week you take a picture of your growing baby bump with a cute sign showing how many weeks. At about month 7 you finally have a substantial bump and are convinced that your belly cannot possibly get any bigger.
You look forward to each doctor visit, and it seems that there is way too much time in between them.
You pull out your list of questions, wondering what body changes are normal, what you can expect this month, and what foods and activities are safe for the baby. You take notes (mental or actual) and make sure to follow all instructions perfectly.
As the months progress, you discover all kinds of different ways that your body is changing.
You are amazed that your body is able to do all these things!
You are not a huge fan of the heartburn or insomnia that you experience, but the joy and anticipation of the upcoming arrival of your baby overshadow the unpleasantness. You chuckle at the amount of trips you take the bathroom every day and make comments about how the baby must be sitting on your bladder.
The last few months of your pregnancy are spent finalizing your registry and making your birth plan.
You have exhaustively researched every piece of baby gear and placed them all on your registry. You cannot believe that a baby requires so much stuff! You cannot wait until you start receiving all of the cute blankets, toys, and clothes that you registered for. You have also done exhaustive research on labor and birth and have created your ideal birth plan, which you have shared with your doctor, family and friends. Your hospital bag is packed, your car seat has been installed and checked, and all that remains is the arrival of your bundle of joy!
Your Second Pregnancy
You have a suspicion you might be pregnant, so you go ahead and have an extra glass of wine just in case. If you don’t have official confirmation you don’t have to follow all of those pesky pregnancy restrictions, so you wait an extra day or two to take the test.
Now that you know you’re pregnant you think about how to tell your husband the good news, quickly realize you don’t have time for that because you have another child (or children) to care for, and tell him as you walk out of the bathroom.
You are both over the moon excited! Your family and friends have already been asking questions about when you will have another baby, so you fess up as soon as they notice you declining a drink, changing your diet, or throwing up in the bathroom.
Now that everyone knows and you’ve been to your first doctor’s appointment, you continue on with life as usual. Well, as usual as it can be when you want to constantly sleep, throw up, and cry but you still have the responsibilities of wife, parent, employee, etc. You know that the baby will spend the first several weeks in your room, so you don’t bother thinking about a nursery yet. And why waste time thinking of names before you know if the baby will be a girl or a boy?
You are forced to wear maternity pants in the first trimester, and you can forget about keeping this pregnancy under wraps for long.
Clearly, your uterus is having no trouble remembering what to do. You might remember to take a few belly pictures along the way, but usually they are done in a mirror with a toddler hanging on your leg. At month 4 you already have a substantial bump, and you groan when you think about how much bigger your belly is going to get.
Now that you have another child with you, doctor visits become a complicated dance of either finding childcare or packing enough snacks and toys to keep your little one quiet.
You wonder if it is really necessary to go this often and have a nurse keep you updated on your weight gain. When the doctor asks if you have any questions, you stare blankly because you haven’t had a free second to even think about what questions you could have. “How early can we get this baby out safely?” is about the only thing that comes to mind, so you shake your head no and head for the door as quickly as possible.
As the months progress you remember all the “fun” things you will get to experience during pregnancy.
It seems that the heartburn, gas, nausea, and insomnia started the second you found out you were pregnant, and will not be going away any time soon. Plus you still have the constipation, inability to shave properly, itchy belly, round ligament pain, Braxton Hicks contractions, and shortness of breath to look forward to. Now your frequent bathroom trips are accompanied by your other child and the extreme urgency that comes with a lack of bladder control from your first baby.
Why did you think this whole pregnancy thing was a good idea again?
Since you have an obscene amount of hardly used baby gear from your first child, you are not sure you will even bother with a registry. You finally decide to make one, and have it complete in an hour. Now you know the items that you actually use with a baby, and most of your registry consists of practical things like diapers and wipes. There is not one item of clothing on there, and you already have a plethora of unused blankets in the closet.
Your first birth did not exactly follow your ideal plan, so you put little thought into a birth plan this time around knowing that anything can happen once labor begins.
Your due date is approaching, so you make sure to locate your carseat and put it in the vicinity of the car. You think about packing your hospital bag, but things come up so you never get around to it. When labor starts you throw a few things into a bag, grab the carseat, and head to the hospital to welcome your new bundle of joy!
Bringing Back the Magic
There is definitely something special about a first pregnancy that never seems to be recaptured with each subsequent one. Unless, of course, you are one of those women who loves pregnancy, in which case I have nothing to say to you. (Kidding, but really you ladies make the rest of us look bad!)
For most women, every pregnancy after the first loses a little more of that magic. Maybe it’s because we are caring for other tiny humans, or maybe it’s because ignorance really is bliss and now we know too much. Whatever the reason, there is one bright spot in all this.
While your first pregnancy may be easier than your second (or third or fourth), your first baby is definitely harder.
When your second baby is born, along with him or her comes a confidence and familiarity that was missing with your first child.
Breastfeeding comes more naturally, you know that the sleepless phase actually does not last forever like you thought it would the first time, and you are an expert at diaper changing, burping, and baby wearing. It does not take nearly as much time to pack and leave the house, and you are out and about pretty quickly. So to all the women who are struggling through an uncomfortable second pregnancy, take heart. You are about to experience the magic of a second baby!